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Locals say the word Chittagong originated from chattagram (small village), though it more likely comes from the Rakhaing (Arakanese) phrase tsi-tsi-gong (‘war should never be fought’) inscribed on a tablet brought by an invading Buddhist army.

Despite its name, Chittagong has been consistently fought over. In 1299 Muslims occupied the city, until the Rakhaing retook it and retained it until 1660. The Mughals took possession next, only to be expelled by the Rakhaing in 1715. Finally, in 1766, the British raised their flag.

The evolution of the city followed a similar pattern to Dhaka, except that the oldest parts (where the city of Sadarghat now stands) were wiped out during the British and post-Independence periods. The Pakistani navy shelled the city during the Liberation War.